Life tends to pull us off center. Often trials and losses are the culprits—things such as natural disasters, pandemics, economic struggles, social and political unrest, relational conflict, and hurts and disappointments. Sounds familiar, right? We’ve really been through it this year! No wonder we’re feeling off center. So, how do we find our center and restore our peace?
This is what the spiritual journey is about—“coming home” to our center, which is Christ in us, and resting there. It’s a process, not a formula or quick fix; and a spiritual director can serve as a guide along the journey. But I’d like to share just a few insights and an exercise that have been helpful to me and, I hope, will be helpful to you.
First, let’s consider what “coming home” or being centered looks like. It’s always helpful to identify health so we know where we are headed.
I used the word “growing” each time intentionally, because it’s important to realize this is a messy process and the goal is not perfection but progress. Sometimes we will be centered in one area but off center in another. And the good news is that God patiently and lovingly calls us home in each area, gently guiding us and showering us with grace.
Second, we can find some clues for how to move toward this place of centeredness and peace in Psalm 131, which speaks of quieting ourselves like a child in its mother’s arms. That sounds wonderful, doesn’t it? But how do we do it? If we read between the lines, we can identify four “exchanges” happening in these three short verses:
Letting go of ego or pride and embracing humility (v. 1).
Letting go of the need for certainty and embracing mystery (v. 1).
Letting go of anxious striving or craving and embracing rest (v. 2).
Letting go of doubt or fear and embracing hope (v. 3).
How do these exchanges happen? We can let go of pride by giving up our need to be seen, recognized, praised, or acknowledged as right—choosing, instead, to serve and honor others above ourselves. We can let go of the need for certainty by relinquishing our right to understand what doesn’t make sense and recognizing that much about life and God is a matter of the heart, not the mind. We can let go of striving or craving by trusting that God will meet all of our needs, which gives us rest. And we can let go of doubt or fear by believing that God is with us and for us, working all things for our good, which gives us hope. When we find ourselves off center, we can review these four exchanges and talk with God about what we need to release and receive.
If any of these exchanges is difficult for us, we can ask, “What obstacle is in the way, Lord?” Most likely it is a past wound that has caused a false belief to become our truth. Whether now or later, God will reveal these obstacles to us at the right time and lead us on the path to healing. In the meantime, and perhaps as part of the process, here is an exercise to help us quiet ourselves in God:
Quiet Yourself in God
Keep in mind that this is not a once-and-done exercise but an as-often-as-you-need it process. When you find yourself off center in more than one area (God, self, others, things) or dealing with anxiety you may not be able to explain, make this a regular practice (perhaps daily or even several times a day). It is my hope that as you do this, your love for God will deepen, your trust in God will grow, and the fruit of a quiet heart will bloom in your life—love, joy, peace, patience kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23).
Hi, I'm Sally!
I'm passionate about connecting with God and connecting with people, offering spiritual encouragement and companionship. I'm so grateful to be on the journey with you as we walk with God together.